story craft #9 Completion Euphoria

Mike GristStory Craft, Writing 2 Comments

I just wrote the final scene for the first part of the first Dawn book, and I’m feeling euphoric. I want everybody to read it right now and be moved! It may only be redraft, but its a complete redraft, a ground-up re-write that I’m feeling very good about. It follows the principles I talked about in Writing Blog #1 The Dungeon Master’s Screen- all of the stuff that before had been potential on the page; back-story and summary, is now written large and dramatic, with acres of conflict, emotion, and irreversible change.

The rest of this (short) post will be me talking about that.

It’s a good feeling. This story felt experimental, so I’m really glad I could pull it all together. There are six or seven characters intertwining closely, impacting each other, leading up to a big climax with the lead character that creates the momentum for him to go reeling off into the second part of the book.

In previous drafts all that conflict and forwards momentum was implied. It was understood, but never made explicit. Hopefully now it is. What started as two or three pages of the story so far has become over 100 pages of action, conflict, and agonizing choices. It is the first part of four that needed this redrafting, though it was the one in direst need. Now it’s 50,000 words long. If each part peaks at that kind of level, the whole thing will be 200,000 words, which is pretty respectable for a fantasy epic.

Hitting the right climax came about purely as a process of the redraft. I had in mind a quieter affair. That was my outline. I tried to take the story in that direction but it didn’t want to fit, so I had to retrench and lop off thousands of words that no longer worked. I took a run up at it and tried again, and maybe this time managed to stick the landing.

Redrafting must be necessary. I guess redrafting multiple times is part of the evolution of the story. Each pass around new things come up, new ideas get woven in and become intrinsic, adding value. The story gets toughened like metal heated, hammered and cooled and heated, hammered and cooled multiple times.


Part 1– 56,000 words

Part 2– 41,000 words

Part 3– 34,000 words

Part 4– 21,000 words

Some quotes on rewriting-

The time to begin writing an article is when you have finished it to your satisfaction.  By that time you begin to clearly and logically perceive what it is you really want to say.  ~Mark Twain

There is no great writing, only great rewriting. – Justice Brandeis

Books aren’t written, they’re rewritten. Including your own. It is one of the hardest things to accept, especially after the seventh rewrite hasn’t quite done it… -Michael Crichton

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